by Billie Wilson

After hitting our window, a hummingbird lay stunned on our sidewalk.  Because I feared that one of our pets might find it or that a child might accidentally step on it, I decided to move it to a safer place.  I cupped it gently in my hands and felt its trembling.  Then it lay quietly, looking up at me.  I wondered if it felt fear, even though every fibre of my being pulsed with love.

After placing it on soft rags in old flower box, I got the hummingbird feeder and lifted the bird to it. Tiny feet wrapped securely around my finger as the bird began to eat.  Who can speak of the miracle of a hummingbird's tongue!  I was awestruck.

The hummer ate long and lustily, then settled into the curve of my palm, not shivering quite so much as before.  It watched me . . . then made the smallest sound. One whispery peep . . . then another ... and another.  Who has heard a hummingbird speak?  I felt drenched in miracles!

I placed it where it could reach the feeder, gathering green branches and flowers.  I worried about its fear, thinking it might die from fright alone.  What joy to discover it later, perched on a branch, sipping nectar.

                     injured hummingbird
                     rests with soft peeping--
                     how soon will it fly?

Before leaving for work the next day, I carried my sleepy young sons out to see the sleeping bird. Their awe matched my own.  Later in the day, I learned the bird had died, still clutching the stem where it had slept. My sadness welled for such a little life so swiftly gone.

After work, my sons and I went to find a burial place.  Todd asked if he could carry the bird.  "I can hold him very gently," he assured me.  We walked toward the meadow behind our house.  After a while, Scott carried the bird until we came to a slender young tree that sang of life and greenness and hope.  Todd and I gathered buttercups, forget-me-nots, and fireweed while Scott cupped the bird against his shirt.

                       small child in meadow--
                       buttercups sunny and gold
                       as his hair

Todd and I shaped the grasses under the tree to form a deep nest. Then Scott carefully placed the hummingbird's soft body in my hands. While on my knees in the fragrant meadow grass, my tears touched the bird's emerald feathers, and I began to sob.  Soft as feathers, I felt Scott's fingers touch me.  He stroked shyly and then wrapped his arms around my shoulders, holding me as though I were the child, and trembling with his own grief. Todd watched, uncertain.  It was his first experience with death. I drew him against me and we all three clung together.

We placed the hummingbird in its new nest, covering it with green leaves, grasses, and flowers, and then we walked quietly home, hand-in-hand.

That moment in the meadow came to symbolize something profound.  When Scott reached out to me -- a child who was too shy to say "I love you" -- he expressed his love more clearly than words ever could.  And threaded through those memories has come a deeper knowing that we are all so undeniably bound by a compelling Oneness to all of life -- and to each other.

                          new millennium--
                          one tiny bird from long ago
                          still touching